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Child Custody & Support

Stepparent Adoptions

Child Custody and Child Support | Martinez & Contra Costa County

When a child is born, the biological parents have certain rights and responsibilities toward that child. The court process of Stepparent Adoption severs those rights and responsibilities of one of the biological parents and gives those rights and responsibilities to the stepparent of the child.

Stepparent Adoption is truly a win/win situation, if all parties agree.  Because it is a permanent transfer of parental rights and responsibilities, it should never be undertaken lightly. The adopting stepparent must be fully aware of the possible ramifications of legally changing the composition of a family, and be willing and able to embrace everything that comes with that decision.

Some of the benefits of adopting your stepchild are:

  • The ability to make decisions on behalf of your stepchild regarding medical care, school, religion, and other important life issues.
  • Providing the child a safe, stable, and loving home, and giving the child a sense of belonging.
  • Stepparent Adoption also provides legal security in case something was to happen to the existing parent. Without a Stepparent Adoption, the stepparent has no guaranteed parental rights.
  • If the child’s other biological parent has been absent from the child’s life, you can fill that void, in a truly clear and formal way.
  • If the Court grants the adoption, a new birth certificate can be issued in which the child’s name can be changed.

Some of the other things of which you should be aware are:

  • Once the Stepparent Adoption is finalized, it cannot be revoked or nullified, except in rare situations.
  • Going forward, the stepparent will be responsible to care for and support the child, providing food and shelter, medical care, protection, and of course, love.
  • If your marriage (or registered domestic partnership) sours, and you divorce (or terminate your registration), it does not, in any way, change the legal relationship that has been created by the adoption.
  • You are subject to all of the obligations of that of a biological parent. This includes the payment of child support and other monetary child support obligations such as having to maintain medical insurance and contribute towards unreimbursed medical expenses.

Basic requirements for stepparent adoption

  • In California, there are certain basic requirements that need to be met to be eligible to petition for a Stepparent Adoption, some of which are:
  • You must be married to (or be in a registered domestic partnership with) one of the child’s biological parents.
  • You must be over 18, and 10 years older than the child.
  • The child must be under 18.

Even if the basic requirements are met, not all Stepparent Adoptions are successful. One of the biggest hurdles in obtaining a stepparent adoption is obtaining consent of the other parent. If the child’s other biological parent is still alive, his or her parental rights must be terminated before any adoption can be approved.  This is done through the other’s parent’s consent, or if consent is not obtained, there will be a hearing in which a judge will determine if his or her parental rights should be involuntary terminated.

The Stepparent Adoption hearings provide some of the brightest and happiest moments in our professional lives as attorneys and are an incredibly special and momentous occasion for each family.